Dancing With the Stars sent longtime fans into a tailspin with the season 28 cast announcement. Sean Spicer aside, the new season won't feature two fan-favorite professional dancers, Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess. Both posted on social media about their exits, but now Artem has revealed even more behind-the-scenes details about his shocking departure.
During a discussion on The Bellas Podcast, Artem opened up about how he learned he was being cut from DWTS after nearly 10 seasons.
"God, I don't even know where to begin to be honest with you, because obviously it was a massive shock and having those calls are never, never, never fun," Artem told Nikki Bella and Brie Bella.
"Even if it's positive, it's still not fun because so many times in the past people have been not really brought back, who've been there a long time like Tony [Dovolani], like Maks [Chmerkovskiy] and like Marc [Ballas]. The fact is that's it's always terrifying to get that call."
Artem started on the UK version, Strictly Come Dancing, before joining the US series in season 19 in 2014, so it's been roughly 10 years of Dancing for him, including two seasons a year, two tours and constant promotion. "It's not even a job. It's a lifestyle that you've been doing for a very, very long time and there's never been a thought in my mind that I'm not going to be doing it, you know?" he said.
But, he got the call. "It's like going through a breakup...and you know, good memories of breakup."
On the podcast, explained the show is about taking someone—a celebrity—and going on a journey with them as he teaches them new ballroom skills.
The cast was announced on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Aug. 21. Artem got the call on Friday or Saturday before. There was always a chance, he said, that he wasn't going to be asked to be a pro partner to a celebrity, but "there was never a possibility I'm not going to be involved with the show."
Dancing With the Stars used to feature a troupe of professional dancers during the season. He said he was getting texts about promo shoots two weeks before the cast announcement came. "It was always a positive conversation…never even thought, ‘Oh we're going to let you know if you're going to be on or not.' There was always a conversation of like, ‘Oh, that's what when we're planning to do the promo shoot, or, ‘That's when we're planning the announcement. That's when we're planning GMA,'" he said. When he hadn't heard from producers the week before the announcement was made, he knew something was up.
"I called up producers and they said, ‘Hey we're going to find out by end of the day today we'll let you know.' That was approximately, what 10 in the morning? So, I waited until like 7 p.m. at night," he said. But he knew the writing was on the wall by the time he finally heard around 8 p.m. that day.
Nikki said Artem still gets down moments about how everything turned out.
"You can be depressed, and I think I'm at the point where I'm kind like trying to figure it out. It's not so much about being depressed, but not looking about what could've been because it's so recent. And you can't help but think about if I would be there, who would potentially be my partner," he said. "Being on a show like DWTS, for what I do, is the top of the game. There's really no other jobs that give you the satisfaction of choreographing, teaching and getting the recognition in that spectrum, so there's a part of that is like ‘Ok, I can't be there. What else can I do with it?'"
Now he's working on other projects, but still has lingering doubts about his exit. Was he cut because he didn't think he was good enough? One thing for sure is he's not going to wait around for a call.
Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. on ABC.